tv U.S. Senate CSPAN May 25, 2012 5:00pm-7:00pm EDT
have been. >> do you think they were? >> i don't think so. one of the reasons why, even though it's fairs to i think i'm somewhat png at national now, rebekah was always very, very straightforward to deal with. there were a number of stories i dealt with her, very difficult for individual ministers. robin cook was one. steven buyers was another. where she was always -- we had a sense of, i had a job to do, she had a job to do, but we could be straight with each other. >> was "the sun" ever fed stories by you? >> yeah. so were other papers. i would say we were one of the prime sources for every media organization in the country. >> so it wasn't a question of
prioritizing "the sun," you feel, it was just part of your job to -- >> well, look. most -- we made a lot of changes from 1997, the biggest of which was putting the briefings on the record. most of my contact with the media was on the record-briefing. every single paper thought we favored other papers. "the mirror" thought we favored "the sun," "the sun," thought we favored "the mirror," "the telegraph" thought we favored "the times." you wouldn't win, really. >> in terms of "the mirror," at least 60 meetings he had with mr. blair. when mr. blair was prime minister. and you were often present at those meetings. would that be right? >> it might be. i think piers would also accept some of those would be receptions and what does that work out? six a year? is that a lot? piers was the editor of the one
labor supporting newspaper. there was an annual lunch that we had at the labor party conference. but certainly i would be present at some of the -- most of those meetings, probably. >> obviously they were on-site. save of course in relation to the iraq war when mr. morgan in particular was hostile. was it a question of enabling "the mirror" to put the best possible gloss on stories? >> this whole thing about spin is overcome. the public aren't stupid. most of the presence of the prime minister in people's lives would be what they saw on the television. and when they saw him on the news and the house of commons. and so most of the discussions i would have had with piers would actually -- i mean, certainly during the iraq war, we had a fairly fundamental disagreement. and other situations, he would be and was often angry because
he thought we favored "the sun," just as "the sun" sometimes thought we favored "the mirror." he was an editor, i was the prime minister's director of communications and strategy. it was, you know, an up and down but pretty good relationship. >> paragraph 46 of your statement, you deal with contacts with other parties as well. interestingly, you recall that. the middle of 46, page 00821. which his wife complained express newspapers intruded on their privacy. >> as i say, an irony lost on all but her and her husband. >> i'm sure this is an example of genuine amnesia.
but i'm not suggesting for one moment that you might be misleading us. but anyway. paragraph 26, please. >> 26? >> 26 now. moving away from proprietors. moving to the more general. let me just ask a question about them. there's obviously much, much more contact, understandable between proprietors and senior editors with very senior government ministers and people such as yourself. than there would be for other interest groups. is there a risk, do you think, that that access can indeed work
the other way so that therefore, there is a risk, which has to be guarded against -- i'm not saying it can't be guarded against -- that their particular interests, and that could be commercial or personal, by which i mean the paper, or it could be that which they are campaigning -- achieves a greater prominence than would be achieved by somebody in a quite different situation who doesn't have the same sort of access? approximate absolutely. i totally accept that. >> is that a problem? >> yeah, i think it is a problem. i think it means that the interests of one section of the national makeup does have greater access than others who
probably should have just as good access to government. so i think that the fact of businesses owning media does give them a disproportionate access. i don't ca i don't think that's the same thing as power but i think that gives them disproportionate access. >> once you've got disproportionate access, the risk is -- >> yeah. >> -- that the influence is that much more potent. >> i agree with that. >> now, using your experience, both as a journalist and as somebody who's worked in government and the rather higher grade view you've been able to take of life since you ceased, how can that be fixed? >> i think openness is an
important thing. and transparency. so when mr. jay said it's a bit odd they come through the back door, i think that's right. i think that -- i think i'm right in saying that, for example, the american president's diary is published. so that people can see what he's doing with his time. but i do think that it has to be -- it can only be fixed -- i say this when i address the point in my statement -- i think it can only be fixed if both sides of this acknowledge the problem is not just the other side. there is a tendency for those of us, if you like, on the political side to say, it's all your fault. there's an even stronger tendency on this side to say, it's all your fault. i think we can get beyond that. we're not going to get anywhere. so openness, a greater explanation i think from the --
see, i think the politicians have done a very, very bad job in standing up for themselves in terms what was their legitimate role is, what their legitimate functions are, how they have to engage with the media because if they don't, they're going to get blown away. so there's got to be a proper reckoning of each other's power and each other's status. and i think that where we've got to is a position where some elements of the media kindly think they're above politics. and they're even even above the law. >> it's the point -- slightly different, though. i suggest to you it might be possible to articulate it slightly differently by saying this. that if the story's big enough, the rules don't count. >> again, anything to get a story. >> well, it's actually not quite -- >> a lot of the phone hacking stuff wasn't about big stories at all. >> i agree with that. and i'm not actually talking
about what might be criminal. i'm talking about a slightly different idea. possibly i'm borrowing mr. morgan's phrase. i'm taking it out of context. let me start again. let me say this. we, the press, are not necessarily bound by the same rules that govern other behavior. approximate extension of that, going back to what we were talking about a moment earlier, the sense that they don't think anything will happen to them as a result of going beyond those boundaries. because the political class, the police as we've seen, and other parts of our national life, don't treat them in the same way as they treat other
organizations and people. and i think that's the bit we need to talk about fixing, that has to be fixed. >> let me add one other element to it. because i am going to ask you about fixing it. the other element is that whereas the press will look to hold col pigss to account, they'll look to help educational authorities, the judiciary to account, with rare exceptions, nobody is holding what they are doing to account. >> correct. correct. and i've addressed that in parts and when we get on to the future -- >> yes, yes. >> but i think that is the point. they sit in judgment on and expect openness and transparency from every other part of our national life, apart from themselves.
and that's i think why they're in the mess they're in. >> we have moved on. before you left the proprietors i wanted to elicit your view and i've got it. >> right. >> i know you dealt with this first in your statement, the concept of newspapers and power that i was seeking to bring the strands together at the end of this little section of your evidence. paragraph 26008 and 9. >> yep. >> paragraph 26 in terms of daniel easily statement of your view. what about the thesis that we've had advanced by mrs. brooks, mr. day, various others, newspapers simply derive their power from their readers. do you agree with that or not? >> no. >> why not? >> partly they do.
but for example, some of the smallest papers are the most influential. i think within any newspaper can at a certain point pick up a campaign, provided they do it in a professional and sophisticated way, they can make that campaign work. so i don't think it's just a question of circulation. and also, i think that the newspaper editors make huge assumptions about their readers. and describe them almost as a homogeneous block. when rebekah talked about following their readers in shifting from supporting labor to supporting conservatives, or back the other way, the idea their readers are sitting there, moving in the same direction at the same pace, is nonsense. they've made that decision. then through their coverage they try to lead their readers in the same direction. >> i think perhaps in response
to a question i asked, mrs. brooks accepted there was an element of leadership there. >> yeah. yeah. so -- and they're very good at marketing themselves. "the daily mail" presents itself as the voice of middle england. "the sun" presents itself as the voice of the kind of white working class man. "the guardian," the liberal intel gent yeah. that's the perfect thing for them to do. but i don't think that's in a sense where what you call their power necessarily comes from. i think it's a useful thing for them to say. i'm not sure it's necessarily right. >> a reader wouldn't of course necessarily have a view on a particular issue, especially of some complexity, until the agenda's set to describe, at which point opinion's moving in
the direction the paper's taken. looking at paragraph 26. you say, your own assessment, this is three lines down, is they have more influence on the terms of the debate than actual power to dictate policy. >> yeah. >> so the determine terms of the debate were into areas such as the culture of negativity and matters you've outlined elsewhere. >> it's also what's important. i mean, a news bulletin running order is a set of decisions that are made by executives. if a -- at the moment, pornography on the internet, for example. "the daily mail," very involved in a campaign. perfectly legitimate, serious issue. is that more likely to make the politicians think that they might look at it, try to address
it? yes. is there anything wrong with that? no. but that's what i mean by the terms of the day. i don't think they will necessarily then decide the policy. but i think in terms of where the debate is, what is deemed to be important. i say elsewhere in my statement, for example, the fact that issues like industrial action are almost always covered from disruption. the welfare debate. that's what i mean by setting the terms of a debate. >> although the terms of the debate having been set, the political response which is policy, may reflect on that, may it not? >> sorry? what do you mean by that? >> if the newspapers have set the -- >> yeah. >> then the political response, which is the setting of policy, may have been determined by the terms of the debate. would you agree?
>> it might have been, but not if the policy-making processes are working properly. in other words, you can get -- i think it's always important to differentiate between a media-driven campaign on something which they say is important, which they say needs addressing, then whether in reality it does when all the other issues are there. i think it is important to accept -- i think this goes for david cameron, gordon brown, tony blair -- that the amount of time and energy that they, not just the people who work for them, but they as prime ministers have to devote and dedicate to kind of dealing with what are ultimately media management issues. it's grown. it's grown and it's growing because of the way the media has developed. i think that's a problem too. >> then you continue, they only have power if politicians let them have power. >> yeah. >> by which of course you mean it is within the gift of
politicians to prevent press having power. but that might of course have obvious ramifications for free press. it also presupposes politicians are not going to yield to the obvious influences and powers which might intrude on their decision-making. would you agree with that? >> well, i think a lot of this started under margaret thatcher. i think that newspapers were given a sense of power. the numbers that we see, the peerages and the knighthoods and the sense they were almost part of her team. i think it changed under john major. i think when we were in power, i think that we -- i think we maybe did give the media too much of a sense of their own place within the political firm at. when we should have challenged it more. >> talking about the conferment of power, one of the reasons why the newspapers have such power is the good reason you've
identified, namely free press, i understand that. but the bad reasons, and you list three of those at the end of paragraph 26, you refer to the patronage system. the evidence on that you set out. but then the second and the third aspects. the privileged access governments of both colored allowed, the point lord leveson made, the reasons politicians allowed press to have power. is that right? >> yes. >> the efforts made to win media support. which is again another aspect of the same phenomenon, isn't it? >> yeah. i think we might disagree on the word power. because as i say, ultimately the politicians do have the power. i think all three there are factors within this that have led to a change that is probably unhealthy. >> of course the terms influence and power are not synonyms.
one is weaker than the other. you prefer influence rather than power though some would say they're different points on the same spectrum. would you agree with that if. >> no, i think power is a different thing. i don't think newspapers have power. i think politicians have real power. but i think that -- hopefully what comes out of this is a resetting of that balance as it becomes much clearer where power does lie. >> one prefers to use the term power in relation to elected politicians because that's what we confer on them. one doesn't like to use that term in relation to an unelected organ such as the press. really it's just a play on words, isn't it? >> no, i don't think so. if you look at decisions david cameron is making now, whether
it was military action in libya or troops en route to afghanistan or spending on the health service or tax levels, newspapers can't do those things. and that is real power, which he has invested in him because he's the prime minister. newspapers can influence all of those debates. i don't think it is power. >> i'll move to a different topic now. >> maybe slightly -- different. but i wonder whether it is not rather more than mere influence. i don't limit the meaning of the word influence. because what newspapers have is what is longevity. and politicians tend not to have
longevity. so mr. murdoch has been there or thereabouts for 40 years, which is a very, very long time. you make the point that he is the most powerful media owner, and then you describe mr. dacre as the most powerful newspaper editor. but doesn't that longevity give them rather more than influence? i agree, it is not the power to change the law or the way in which this country is run. but it is a very real form, at the very strongest end of influence. would that be fair? >> yeah, i think in rupert murdoch's case it would be because of the point you make. if you sort of analyze
power/influence year by year over the last four decades, as you say he's been a big player throughout that time. for example, i can remember being struck once in a discussion with george bush asking what rupert murdoch was like because he never met him. which i found quite surprising. and whether he's met him since, i don't know. but that was -- i think when rupert murdoch went to the committee and said, i wish these guys would leave me alone, i think that was a little disingenuous because i think he is interested in powerful people, people who make the decisions, make the news. i see it as a different sort of power. i think political power -- i think the political class is kind of to some extent ceded too much on this ground and needs to get it back. >> in other aspects of the relationship between the media
and politicians and obviously vice versa, touched on in the phyllis report which we looked at this morning under tab 21 in the bundle we prepared. contexted in evidence section, section 4, mr. campbell. in background to the breakdown, page 7. they major factors have contributed to the breakdown in relationship between government and the media and the public. the communications strategy adopted by the late administration coming into power in 1997, reaction to the media and the press in particular to that, then the response of the civil service. latest past experience, government communications staff were not up to the mark, so a rise in the media handling role of politically appointed, unelected special advisers. their more aggressive approach and their increased use of selected briefing of media outlets in which government
information was seen to be used to political advantage, later reaction from the media used to far more adversarial relationship with government. while cause and effect there may be disputatious, it's inevitably mixed up. you would say you can't take this to 1997, you should go much earlier in time, your evidence says that. the basic thesis advanced here is not far wide of the mark, is it? >> no, although the specific -- the same page says the specific trigger for this inquiry, i think i'm right in saying, was the very difficult relationships between civil servants and special advisers in one department, department of transport, and also then the difficulties that we had in relation to what became known as -- everything has to have a ga gate, surreygate, and bristol flats.
i think that was the background. then the difficulties with the bbc over iraq. so i think the relationship got into a very, very bad place, there's no doubt about that. and as i say in my statement, i think a lot of the media put the blame on us. i think we put most of the blame on them. and that probably exacerbated the problem. but i think it is -- i do emphasize, as i said earlier, that it's -- this will not be fixed unless the media accept some of their responsibility in relation to how all this developed. i've set out in both statements why i think it's happened. i think some of it's perfectly understandable. but if we just see this as a problem of government communications, then we're not going to get anywhere. >> usually when one's trying to diagnose the problem, it's sometimes not particularly
helpful to dwell on fault and certainly rarely helpful to dwell on personal fault. but are we able to agree that there is responsibility on both sides of -- the. >> yeah. >> -- equation, as it were. the society, the press, and on the side of politicians. in particular there is -- i'll speak for them -- such as you? >> yeah, i will. but what i won't do -- what the media like to do is, until you say it's all your fault, we're not going to engage in this debate. now, this inquiry has actually finally led to it a slightly different place. i don't make any apology for the changes we made in opposition because they helped us to win. i don't make apology for the changes made in government because they helped us to communicate more effectively and i think that helped the prime minister to be -- to govern more effectively. what i do accept is that at times we probably were too controlling, that at times we
did hold on to some of the techniques of opposition when we should have dumped them at door number 10. i also ask you to bear in mind just the sheer volume of issues that we were expected to deal with, be on top of. 24/7 media means just that. you're dealing with this 24 hours a day at a time when, in my case, also trying to be in charge of overall strategy as well. so i think the points that i made earlier about the debit side of the way the media's developed, i don't deny any of them and i think the media has to face up to that. >> mr. marr in his book "my trade" under "the dirty art of political journalism" page 161, graphic accounts of a certain modus operandi, tales of how new
labor had told reporters or producers spread through the wall of press gallery offices and between headquarters, the backlash was slow but it came. at the end of blair's first two years it was a badge of honor to be bollocked and shout back just as loudly. >> i don't really buy that, to be honest. i think that -- was i robust, yes. if a newspaper wrote something that i didn't -- that i wanted to rebut and refute, would i do it, yes. but this bullying thing i think is nonsense, i do. >> persistent attempts to dictate what should appear on a front page or top of a running order became infuriating and hardened journalistic hearts even before the 1997 election it was obvious labor had spiestiving it off about the running orders, script lines and correspondents being used for news programs and attempting to ambush them before they went on-air to get more favorable
coverage. alastair campbell and others would single out and ridicule the correspondents at hostile newspapers. george james, political editor of "the daily telegraph," studiously favorite of the old school, was a favorite target. did that happen if. >> you can ask george but i don't think so, no. >> okay. >> i suspect from the smile on his face, nor does he. >> maybe a different sort of smile, i can't see it. favored reporters were given special treatment just as though editors were made much of in downing street and invited to weekends at checkers. did that happen? >> there may have been some invited to checkers, not many. i'm afraid i don't buy this thesis, no, i really don't. as i said, most of my contact with journalists who defended what i call the institutionalized dishonesty of the old system, most of my contact with journalists were on the record-briefings where they
could quote whatever i said, any of them could come to it. were there some journalists that i liked more then others? you wouldn't be human if you didn't. i think that's just the way of the world. were there some that i trusted more than on the records? certainly. were there some for whom i had complete and total contempt? yes, there were. did i ever kick them out of briefings? no. >> he continues and concludes indeed, political correspondents had a certain alongside their professional -- >> that's what i call the herd mentality. >> yes, it's true. a cynical way some were favored because they worked for murdoch, others were sneered at because they worked for at because they worked for conrad black disgusted many who worked for neither. >> again, the person at the sun with whom i would have had most day-to-day contact was trechb cabinet because he was the political editor. i think it's fair to say trevor and i disagreed about most
things. he was -- i go back to the point i made earlier. everybody thought i was favoring somebody else. everybody thought that anything that appeared in the press somehow came from me. the whole thing was absurd. but the absurdity i think -- and i say in the statement one of the best examples of spin done by journalists is the extent to which the issue of spin became so central to the debate. i had a job to do. my job was to brief the press on behalf of the prime minister and to advise the prime minister and other ministers. and i did that job in an incredibly exposed place. there are half a dozen -- and i know you've got a couple of journalists coming later this week. you no doubt will go into them in huge detail. there are half a dozen issues that get thrown back again and again and again and again. i dealt with thousands of stories. i dealt with thousands of briefings. and i would defend the accuracy and hontsz of thoesty of those y
journalist any day of the week. >> without exception? >> no, there are some terrific journalists. >> no, no, no -- >> oh, no, we made mistakes. for sure. but given the pressures we were under they were extraordinarily few in number. >> a different perspective from mr. powell, page 194. just to show that there's always a need for balance. >> i did actually read andrew mar's book over the weekend because it was on your reading list. there were some bits where he was very, very nice about me. i was rather shocked to read that. >> well, that's why we've not referred you to them. this is mr. powell speaking. "anna stow was unfairly criticized for politicizing the government press service. actually, what he did was to professionalize and modernize it. when we arrived it was in a parlor state and by the time we left it it had regained its
confidence and become far better at what it did. the seamy side of political press briefing is the domain of ministers' special advisers and of course of ministers themselves. would you agree with that? >> that's the point i made earlier, that whenever anything appeared in the press that came from the government people assumed it was me but often it wasn't. i would certainly agree that the government communications system that we inherited was not fit for the purpose -- a lot of change had to be maud. robin butler, the cabinet secretary, was very, very clear with me that i had the authority to make change. he then set up the manfield review, which led to substantial changes. i think they're changes for the better. most of them have been kept by gordon brown and david cameron. and other people got up to all sorts of stuff. there's no doubt about that. and part of politics is part of life. i tried to control at the center. i tried to keep a grip of
things. but the reality is there are hundreds of people out there the whole time who -- anybody who works on downing street in the eyes of a journalist is a senior downing street source. anybody who works in the home office is a senior home office source. i think we did a pretty good job in having proper coordination at the center, but it's very difficult to maintain that. >> mr. powell points the finger of blame in a particular place. he says "it's the special advisers like the damian o'brieens, charlie wheelers, and ed balzes, not -- who specialize in character assassination through the pages of the newspapers. what always surprised me was that the assassins managed to persuade the press to keep quiet about their activities. however many incriminating e-mails or texts they sent." >> that's a very good point. in other words -- >> is all of that correct? >> well, no, not all of it because -- did you if you ask me to single out then i would
single out charlie wheeland. i was always clear about that. and i was always clear with gordon brown that i thought it damaged him to have him there. likewise damian mcbride. the point i'm make -- i can remember, for example, one briefing where at the end of, yes, another frenzy and journalists accusing me of lying and politicians then getting roped in to say i should resign and blah, blah, blah. i can remember saying to all the journalists there in the room, right, come on. just say what the lie is and then provide any evidence whatsoever. and they never could. so just -- and that in itself is a form of spin. i mean, you sent me peter o'bourne's essay he did for the british journalism review. most lobby journalists he said have been deliberately misled or lied to by downing street. followed by zero evidence whatsoever. new evidence of a culture of deception, manipulation of
statistics, secretive smear campaigns. he lists david clark, keith hellowell, the drug czar. no evidence whatsoever. and moe came to believe that we were briefing against her because it kept being written. and there's not a single journalist that's ever produced a shred of evidence. and that's way mean by them being the spin doctors. >> finally, they succeeded in building up a dependency on the political correspondents by feeding them constant supplied stories so the journalists were reluctant to endanger that supply by revealing their methods. >> correct. >> and that's why you -- if you look at david cam reron now, he the prime minister, he has his own media team. i don't think -- take someone like boris johnson. i'm not saying this is going on. but if boris johnson and the people around him want to be briefing the press in a way to
undermine david cameron they can do that and they know the journalists aren't going to drop the minute because it's too good a story for them. so we have that in relation to some of the people who work with gordon brown. no doubt. >> by the end of your time in downing street, mr. campbell, you were somewhat jaded, it may be fair to say, mr. blair points out, pages 301, 32 -- 302, pardon me, of his book. al astare was getting exhausted and ratty and he was getting set upon by the media, whom he was coming to loathe. he was therefore not handling quite right. well, i'm not interested in the bit about handling quite right. but you were coming to loathe them, presumably. >> not all of them. i was coming to loathe -- well, i had come to loathe the culture that i've set out in my statements. there were some individuals that i had come to loathe. i'd come to loathe their
self-obsession, their obsession with me, the negativity, the trivialization. i had come to loathe all that. yeah. but let me just say on the other hand, as i said in my first statement, some of them were and are fantastic first-rate journalists who i think were as worried about the culture as i was. but couldn't actually -- didn't feel empowered to do anything about it. but i was certainly ready to reach the exit door. >> lord mandelson, one of his concluding observations, it's an interview mr. warnersly carried out. lord mandelson referred to page 9 of mr. warnsly's book. there was a great emphasis on managing the media. the expense of managing policy. it was a sense that if you got the story right you'd achieved
something and that's not how government is. do you feel there's any validity in that comment? >> no. i think the policy process was always taken more seriously. but i think we all spent far too much time sfoexed on -- and i speak now as the guy who was in charge of this. the politicians spent way too much time worrying about this stuff. >> what you said, media issues take up much too much time of the prime minister and other senior ministers. >> yeah. but just in their defense, it's very difficult when these full-on frenzies are coming at you. there comes a point where the prime minister will say i need to get out there and deal with this. my point is i think that i think they can have a lot more space and the public are much more savvy about this now and the more strategic the politicians will be the better it will be for them, the less they're focused on the day to day.
now, back in the beginning when we started out i think we had to adopt the approach that we had because we had to recalibrate the playing field. but i think now hopefully there's the window, to use your word earlier, to get to a much, much better position. but it's going to require change from both the politicians and the media. >> well, you said politicians need to get political power back. >> yeah. >> how? >> not at the expense of a free press. i think they have to get a sense of their own power back. you made the point earlier about access. they probably do spend too much time -- look, diary secretaries are used to to being people off and saying no, there's not enough time in the diary. i think the senior politicians need to do more of that with the media. the great thing about the whole sort of change and internet and
the media and so forth are the direct channels of communication now. just as the public can shape a different media landscape so can the politicians, and they should. but i think there's a sense of them still judging their success or failure far too much on what sort of press they're getting. when i saw them, for example, the list of direct contacts there's been between this government and the murdochs since the election, michael go, for example, i couldn't believe it. wasted his time. to my mind. better things to do. >> we will look at the future again at the end of your evidence. i've been asked to put questions to you from a list of different sources, most core participants. i'll do that now, mr. campbell. >> am i allowed to guess who they are? >> i don't really think it matters, mr. campbell. it's the question of the messenger. but feel free.
paragraph 7 of your state. page 00794. in the third line you refer to taking a more strategic, a more proactive approach to communication. did this entail on occasion eck on mi e he can on mizing with the truth, which you continued to deny as an invention of the press? >> i don't think i denied them as an invention of the press but i might have dealt with them in the way i felt would best benefit the government. you have to remember my job was not -- i wasn't the press's representative on downing street. i was the prime minister's spokesman. and he with talked earlier about the -- if you've got a room full of journalists who are being briefed by other people somewhere in the system that there's this problem and i'd be stupid if i sat there and said there wasn't a problem. but what i would do is say look, we're not going to focus on that, we're going to focus on this. we're going to focus on the
budget. we're going to focus on welfare reform, whatever. it wasn't that i was denying, but i would choose my words very carefully in how i dealt with it. >> paragraph 12 now. page 00797. at the very bottom of the page you refer to the remarkable shift of opinion made by some of the murdoch titles on the issue of scottish nationalism and independence and in particular the movement of the scottish sun. the "times" made mr. sammand man of the year. you're not suggesting some sort of causal connection there, are you, mr. campbell? or are you? >> cause between what and what? >> well, between the support the murdoch papers were beginning to give mr. samman, in particular
in scotland, and the "times" making mr. samman man of the year. >> i think the -- i do think rupert murdoch decided samman was someone he wanted to be supportive of for whatever reason. alex samman probably was one of the men of that year. i'm simply making an observation. i do think there's a bigger point in that paragraph. i think the prime minister david cameron and nick clel nd and miliband are getting disproportionately whacked at the moment because of their stance on the media. i think it's revenge for who set this inquiry up. i do believe
korea. it's kind of a ridiculous analog because you can tell them you need to improve your human rights situation and the response to you would be coming and we've had this conversation at the official level, the response would be you commit united states have human rights problems, too. that is not a considerable discussion.
welcome to the museum in which a tall kansas. >> looking at the city for 22 years we think we have a heck of a start. today we will be talking about the problem we are having in the city with taxicabs so 9:20. >> rather modest looking people, what it contains is an alphabetical list of the members and the senate and house of representatives done in 1831.
i believe this was issued for the members in media use only. not that they had xerox machines but they were not supposed to loan this out because as you can see it would tell you exactly where anybody lives so you could go and punish them if you didn't like them. >> we return now to the v3 relationship between the press and politicians. former prime minister tony blair testifies before the ann curry next week. the next portion mr. blair's former secretary explains why the prime minister hired a newspaperman and provides his view of how close british politicians have been with the>> media. wa this is about 45 minutes right person. and mr. blair said he wanted a tabloid person and thought
alastair campbell would be the best. did he discuss that with you in terms of the needs for a tabloid person? >> no, what he said to me when he finally approached me was that he wanted somebody that was strategic, that understood the press and that would be able to do the job he wanted done. so i don't recall that being particularly he wanted somebody who was from the tabloids, but he wanted somebody who knew that world. >> by that stage, of course, you'd been political editor of the mirror for a number of years, hadn't you? >> i had been but at that time i was editor on today. which was then owned by news. >> according to mr. blair, i wanted -- i thought he was good. what i got was a genius. not asking you to comment on, but the hard knot is obviously some attribute which would be
desirable in that place, wouldn't it? >> i think it's possible for somebody who is not necessarily a hard nut to do part of that job but i certainly think that the way the press and the media were developing, you had to be pretty robust. and not shy of engaging in difficult debate. >> in effect, you were head hunted. there were discussions with mr. blair in province, in mid-august. you talked half the night alone with you and did the deal. he said i gave -- that's mr. blair -- gave what assurances i could on peter. do you remember anything about that? >> yeah, i was -- i mean, he asked me to do the job. i said no a couple of times, and then i -- he asked me again, and i went on holiday and said i'd think about it. then he turned up on holiday.
one of the concerns i had was actually that there would be two rival media operations going on. and i wanted assurances that wasn't going to happen. >> mr. blair says he was already anxious about gordon's people. is that the rival you are referring to? >> no, i meant when you talked about peter, i meant whether peter mandelson would, in a sense, de facto, want to do the job that tony blair was asking me to do. as it happens, although peter and i had our ups and downs from time to time, by and large, most of the time we worked well together. in relation to gordon's people there was a sense he had his own -- his own team, his own operation. i am very much a team player. and i want it to be clear that i'd be able to on the communications side of things to lead that team. >> nice portraits of you and mr.
mandelson. peter would slip into the castle through a secret passageway and by nimble footwork and -- cleave his way to the throne room. >> this is tony's book? >> yes. and you, meanwhile, alastair would be an old battering ram destroying the castle gates and neither boiling pitch nor wind-forced doors would keep him out. that's not bad, is it? >> yeah, well -- >> he had great clanking balls as well. >> right. >> let's move on. did you sign a confidentiality agreement when you took this post in 1994 or subsequently in 1997? >> i can't -- i don't think i did. i signed -- i mean, i was covered from 1997 by the official secrets act. i can't remember if i signed a confidentiality agreement in
opposition. >> in 1997, after the first of may, you entered downing street. can you remember whether you were vetted or not? >> i was. >> can you remember when you were approximately? >> i can't remember exactly when, but i can remember being told early on i would have to be. i mean, for example, very early in tony blair's first -- we were very big into the northern ireland situation. that was obvious. i was very much a part of that. so i can't remember exactly when -- i remember being interviewed in my office. i could probably find out a date for you, if i may be in one of those large number of books that you have on your desk there, but i can remember being told early on that i would have to go through what they call the dv process. >> yes. it might have been said that that was owing to the circumstances in which you immediately found yourself,
namely close to documents relating to northern ireland? >> no, i think it was just assumed that i would have to be because of the -- in the transition, the their had been these discussions with robin butler who was at the time the cabinet secretary. jonathan powers but going to be chief of staff. i was going to be press secretary. i think it was assumed we would be involved in all the kind of sensitive policy areas that tony blair was going to be taking charge of. so, for example, we were very quickly we were president of the european union. there were lots of nato issues going on. so i think there was an assumption from the word go that i would be. >> i think what i was trying to ascertain. it may be very difficult to differentiate this, whether there was a reasonable principle which caused you to be vetted or a series of obvious circumstances which rendered it desirable. i'm not sure it's possible to say which, is it? >> i think it was the former.
i think it was the former. i think there was -- i think it was made clear to jonathan powell and me that we would have to go through that process. >> okay. the next is the murdoch press when you look at paragraph nine of your statement, which is our page 07 -- sorry 00795. >> yeah. >> in essence you explain that it was a neutralization strategy, but you ended up doing well the better than that. it sums it up, doesn't it? >> yep. >> the reasons from your perspective are pretty obvious. evisceration by the murdoch press during the -- years linger over the 2002 election results. cause and effect could never be clearly established. is that right? >> yep. >> and then the iconic status of the sun. did you feel in 1994 to 1997
that the sun did occupy such a status or not? >> no, not really. i think they very clefrlly marketed themselves as having such a status. and i think that -- i mean, i say elsewhere in my statement about there was a kind of sense of hierarchy in which paperses were more important than others. and i think "the sun," i wouldn't call it iconic, but it was a significant player. and i think within the media marketplace, rupert murdoch then had probably within the press a greater share and greater power than perhaps he does now because of all the changes that have happened with television and internet, social media and so forth. >> put another way, was it particularly important for you, either to neutralize "the sun" or best to win it over, even if the word iconic may be putting it in a -- >> that was certainly one of the things that eye one of the things we discussed that night
in france, and it's one of the objectives that i set myself. yeah. the neutralization strategy in a sense was to counter the influence i had seen as a journalist who supported the labor party and to try to ensure that we had a more level playing field where we could communicate to the public what we were trying to do and the changes we were trying to make. >> in terms of which paper was the biggest prize in terms of either neutralization or best obtaining its report. did the sun fall into that category? >> it probably felt into the category of the only one that might, as it were, shift position. i couldn't of ever have imagined the daily mail. our approach vis-a-vis the daily
mail was to stop them being quite so vile. our approach with papers like "the express" would have been to engage with them, but i would never have expected "the express" to come out for the labor party. and the broad sheets were in a slightly different space. the mirror -- i worked for the mirror for years. i couldn't imagine it not supporting the labor party. so the sun in a sense was the only one in this rather odd space. >> but i was -- although we set ourselves that objective, i don't -- i think if you'd have asked me in 1994, did i think the sun would back us in 1997, i probably would have said no. >> did you regard having to deal with mr. murdoch and his press as a necessary evil? >> well, i think it was part of the job. it was part of my job to help tony blair communicate to the public and part of that was through the media.
rupert murdoch, there's no point denying is the single most important media figure. and it would have been foolish on our part not to have sought to build some sort of relationship with him. >> did you regard having to deal with him as a necessary evil? >> well, i don't like the word evil in relation to anyone. but i saw it as a part of my job, and i saw it a part of what we sought to do. i mean, i often -- as again is clear from my diaries, it was often when i didn't particularly like having to do it. and at times nor did tony blair. i think there were various points in my diary where i say we -- including just before the election, i have written about this at some length in my witness statement where the sun asked for a piece about europe and we talked about whether to do it and we didn't in any way change policy, but we knew kind
of what they wanted. and i did feel a little bit uneasy at times. but there's no point pretending tony murdoch is not an important person in the media landscape. we dealt with him as has been well documented by all of us. >> the diary entry of yours for the 29th of january, 1997, t.b. was due to see murdoch on monday and said it angered him the meeting mattered. but it did. so that suggests -- that may be putting it too high but still a degree of distaste. would that be closer to it? >> yeah, at times, yeah. >> and also the perception rightly or wrongly that the meeting did matter because it was part and parcel of winning over his support? >> yep. >> might be better rather than to say necessary evil to say necessary obligation rather than something you went about because you wanted to do it. >> there wasn't an obligation. we didn't have to do it.
we could have chosen -- the labor party for some years after the dispute had nothing to do with the murdoch papers whatever. we made an active choice to change that approach and in the diary, he's not happy about that at times. so we made a choice, and the choice was that part of the -- if you like -- part of what new labor was trying to do was show there was no part of public opinion we were scared of. no part of public opinion we didn't think we could take our message and in opposition, getting your message through to the public is hard, if you don't have access to the press. >> isn't that a little bit why it was actually, for you, and the perception you had, an obligation? >> i'm not saying by that that it was something you couldn't not -- >> okay. i infer from obligation a sense of duty. i don't think we had the duty to do that. i think particularly it would have been -- it would have been
lacking good sense not to have done it. >> it's the relationship that -- and the perception of the significance of the relationship that actually runs through the whole thing, isn't it? >> yeah, yeah. >> given that mr. murdoch was not quite in the same place politically as new labor, did not a very factor trying to obtain his support entail to making compromises by new labor? >> i don't think so because i don't think as it were, we went out to him and said rupert would really like you to back this. and i say in my statement, far more important. and this isn't just about murdoch. because murdoch is the biggest figure and because the phone hacking has led to this inquiry. there's been a huge amount of focus on him. this goes right across the media panoply. we had strategies for all of these papers. and we had approaches out to all of these. but i certainly think with mr.
murdoch, for example, you asked me in the questions in advance about the visit to the cayman island. it gave us an opportunity to, in a sense, use that event as a broader public platform and it gave us an opportunity to set out for a huge number of editors and execute ifr ives from aroun world what new labor was about. i think it would have been crazy not to do that. >> did you have any previous dealings, as it were, with mr. murdoch when you worked for today because that was -- that paper was then in the murdoch stable, wasn't it? >> essentially we turned today from a broadly right of center paper to a broadly left of center paper and i don't ever recall rupert murdoch interfering on any level with what we were trying to do there. obviously, he spoke to richard scott from time to time, but --
and i would compare that with, for example, when i worked with robert maxwell who did have a fairly interfering approach. >> when we move forward into '95 and you begin to have personal dealings with mr. murdoch, you are doing that really from without much prior experience of him is that right? >> yeah. >> paragraph nine of your statement, 00795, you say about eight lines down that you believe the sun backed us because they knew we were going to win. we did not win because they backed us. >> yeah. >> it's part of the thinking there that mr. murdoch likes to back winners or not? >> yeah. look. i think rupert murdoch has very, very -- he has a very strong set of political beliefs. he's fundamentally right wing on
most issues. i think he's somebody who -- he's a news man. he's very, very interested in stories. he's interested in powerful people. but i think there is a sense that he likes to back winners. and i think -- as i said to you this morning it was by then, fairly obvious that we were probably going to win the election. but i do think sometimes that this point about the perceived power that people talk of newspapers that dictate elections, i just don't buy it. the last election, david cameron had the endorsement of, you know, virtually all of the newspapers and didn't get a majority. so i think we've got to be careful about this. where i think they have an influence is in the establishment of an overall agenda in which the political environment and debate then plays out. >> let me just ask you to comment on a paragraph in mr.
powell's book which is page 190. he's giving his perception of what was happening at this time. our primary target was rupert murdoch and tony went out of his way to woo him. do we agree with that? >> i don't like the word woo, but he was certainly the most important media player, without a doubt. >> and then mr. powell continues, i've been told by the sunday timss correspondent in washington that the american economist and columnist irwin steltzer was a confidante of murdoch in the best way into him. do you agree with that? >> no, i think the best way into rupert murdoch was via rupert murdoch. >> well, maybe mr. powell is putting it just a notch too high, but if mr. murdoch is not available, the best way to mr. murdoch -- i think he's suggesting is there mr. steltzer. does that overstate it or not? >> i think it probably does. i think from where we were in the uk, steltzer is a very
clever, very close to rupert murdoch. but so were quite a few other people that we dealt with on almost a daily basis. people editing newspapers here. all sorts of people. >> one would certainly have to add to the list other individuals, is that correct? >> yeah. >> tony struck up a friendship with irwin that lasted throughout his time in government, and he helped tony win over murdoch. is that true or not? >> it may be. it may be, i think it's true that irwin steltzer became someone that liked tony blair, liked what new labor was doing, and probably was part of the discussions that were going on within that particular newspaper group. but i think we were always conscious that in terms any of decision that there would been who they would back in the 1997 election, that would be -- that was a decision that would ultimately be made by one man.
>> mr. powell talks about the trip to hayman island which we all know about. and continues, tony put great efforts into maintaining the relationship right throughout his time in government and thereafter. >> yeah. and the issue of any trade-offs, mr. campbell, this is paragraph 49 of your witness statement. age 0083. can i deal with it bluntly in this way. are you able to assist the inquiry from your own knowledge of any evidence which would suggest that an express deal was made between mr. murdoch and mr. blair or mr. blair's government? >> i don't think there ever was
such a deal. >> can we be clear, mr. campbell, what that answer is based on? i'm not asking you to comment. i'm just asking you from your own knowledge. if you knew of such a deal, you would tell us because i've asked you to tell us. do you have any evidence of such deal? >> no. absolutely not. >> in terms of the possibility of implied trade-offs for unspoken supplications. paragraph 49, you refer there to the -- i think we probably asked you to look at the big, bad comment which is mr. paul keating who is then the labor prime minister in australia, wasn't he? >> yeah. >> you cover this in your diaries, volume 1 pages 247 and following.
you set out part of the citat n citation. page 247. on the 16th of july 1995, on murdoch, he told t.b., he's a big, bad bastard and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure you can be a big, bad bastard, too. you can do deals with him without ever saying a deal is done. but the only thing he cares about is his business. and the only language he respects is strength and then a little bit later on you say if he thinks you are a winner, he prefer to be with you than against you. >> yep. >> obviously, mr. campbell, you weren't taking notes while this conversation was going on, but you record it that evening in your diary. how does it come about when we see it in inverted comments?
>> i mean, i did actually quite often take notes in meetings. but that -- i can remember that -- i can't remember exact words in that conversation, but i can remember paul keating's advice very clearly. and it was -- it was good advice. i think he said later, he said you have to -- this is keating again. you have to remember with rupert, it's all about rupert. rupe cert number one, two, three and four as far as rupe cert is concerned. they overestimate the importance of their support for you, but if you can get it, have it. if you are labor you need all the help you can get to win elections. this is paul keating. he's had some considerable experience of dealing with rupert murdoch. >> yes, that's a page 249. the last paragraph, really, for the entry for that day. >> yeah. >> the difference today, overestimating the importance of
their support for you, the they is a reference to the murdochs, is it? >> yeah. >> i think that relates to the point i made earlier. i think newspapers do overstate their own importance, and i think politicians overstate it as well in terms of endorsements of elections. >> just mr. keating's, you can do deals with him without ever saying a deal is done. was he suggesting there, it's done on a nod and a wink or was he suggesting something else? >> no, i think what he's saying there is actually explained by what he goes on to say in that he's -- he needs to know, is the big bad bastard point, he needs to know that you can be as tough as you need to be. and i think that -- you see, again, i think in relation to this whole area of policy, for me, there's been all this focus
on our media management techniques and so forth and, you know, endless books written about it and so forth. i don't think it's that important. what would be wrong is if there ever were the kind of trade-off that you were talking about. and i don't think there's any evidence of such a trade-off. and on the contrary, i think that if you had talked to people who worked at sky, they would -- i think they would argue that rupert murdoch's political profile and the sort of general media neurologist surrounding him led to decisions being made with greater scrutiny upon sky than might have been other companies. i mean if you just look at the big policy decisions we took, the biggest in the media sphere was probably the rise in the bbc license fee. now they weren't terribly happy about that. i think mr. murdoch said in his evidence, not happy about that. he tried to take over manchester united and was blocked. the digital takeover, digital
search, there were differences. itv, channel 5. lots of areas where you'd be hard pressed to say that the murdochs were -- and the murdoch businesses were getting a good deal out of the labor government. >> just to what mr. keating was saying, wasn't he simply saying this, that unless mr. murdoch thinks that you, too, are a big, bad bastard, there's no point even thinking you can do a deal with him because he'll think that you're weak. the way he operates are through implied deals. isn't that the message mr. keating was trying to get across to you? >> i don't think so. i think he was saying -- what he says in that broader context that i've set out in the statement. but i certainly think that the rupert murdoch would have been -- might have been thinking that historically, he'd have, for obvious reasons, this very, very difficult relationship with
the labor party. it looked like there was going to be a labor government. historically our policy positions would in a sense have gone after the murdoch empire, cl weather it was cross media ownership or whatever it might have been. so my point is that i never was witness to and don't believe that anything that was ever a discussion that said now tony if you do this and you do this and you do this, my papers will back you. it just never happened. and i also think, as i've gone through some of the issues that tony blair went through these and the government went through these issues on their merits. >> okay. now i come to the issue of an implied tradeoff. paragraph 13 of your statement. you deal there with the sun in
1997. before i come to that, do you agree with mr. price's view, this is mr. lawrence price, that plans to limit cross media ownership in a way which would have restricted murdoch's empire had been quietly dropped by the labor party within six months of blair's visit to australia in 1995? >> we changed the policy. we changed the position. >> noisily dropped then. >> well, i think lance was trying to kind of feed into and play up to the idea of some sort of conspiracy. there was none. tony blair wasn't terribly keen on the cross -- the cross media policy we had up until then. i set out in my statement what his general position was with regard to cross media ownership. >> so the atribution of cause and effect, which mr. price sees in the sequence of events you don't believe is correct? >> no, i don't.
>> do you have any discussions with mr. blair about the change in cross media ownership policy? >> i must have done. must have done. >> did he mention in any way the impact the change might have or more exactly the existing policy would have had on the murdoch press? >> not that i specifically recall, but it would certainly have been a factor. it would have been a factor. >> so the change in policy was beneficial to the murdoch press, and that was part of the thinking, was it? >> no, what i mean by -- a part of his thinking would be, in any policy making process, part of your thinking will be about how this will be perceived, written up and so forth. but tony blair's view on cross media ownership was that he was
not in favor of changes in the position on cross media ownership that would lead to the closure of titles. he was in favor of trying to broaden the market and open up the market to new media owners. so it was a principle policy position that just happened to differ from the one we'd held when neil and -- was leader of the labor party. >> okay. can i deal with the sun piece in 1997 which you refer to in paragraph 13. i think we saw this with mr. murdoch himself. the actual piece which mr. blair wrote shortly before the 1997 election. was in march 1997. it was made clear to me by the editor that if mr. blair were to
emphasize the point that there would be no entry into the euro without a specific referendum on the, that he understood people's fears about so-called european superstate. it was likely to be the final piece of the jigsaw before mr. murdoch agreed the paper would back labor. you describe that as purely a question of rhetoric. but wasn't that specifically a matter of policy or at least something which mr. blair did which he would not otherwise have perhaps wanted to do? >> no. in terms of -- the policy was already set. the policy was set. and we did have a discussion. i remember we did have a discussion about whether it was sensible to do this piece at that time. and as i say, i go on to say that it was fantastically irritating on one level. we have to go through these kind of routines. we'd be daft not to try it. i don't think we did change policy. i will admit to being a little queasy about the -- i think the
headline was why i love the pound. and it was -- so i was a little queasy about that. i will be honest about that. but i don't think on policy anything was ever traded with rupert murdoch or with any other media owner. so there's an example of where the sun, mass selling newspaper, coming up to an election campaign is giving us half a page to set out our issue which is important, probably more important to the paper than it is to their lereaders. and we took that opportunity. i think it would have been crazy not to. >> you have to remind me, mr. campbell. was it part of the labor party manifesto in 1997 that there would be a referendum before the united kingdom entered the euro? >> yeah it was -- i think i'm right in saying it was one of the five pledges.
>> i'm not saying this is ancient history because it isn't. it is 15 years ago and we're trying to remember. the article in the sun which i think was in mid-march 1997, that, obviously, post dated the 11-party manifesto, did it? >> i can't remember where we are. by this time, everybody knew we were committed to referendum. i'm pretty sure of that. >> so even if the manifesto had not been published, it would have been written six weeks or so before the general election? because we know the election was the 1st of may in '97. >> i'd have to go back and check exactly what was in the manifesto and when that was -- the manifesto would be published after this. certainly the campaign hadn't been announced. but i automatic-- i don't think announcing anything new in this piece at all. >> okay. >> so you were to characterize what happened as perhaps
slightly irritating. if not causing a degree of discomfort. but amounting to no more than rhetoric because it didn't amount to policy change. >> can i ask you please about -- >> can i just -- can i say there that there may well have been positions, situations with either relation to the sun or other newspapers where the prime minister would give in to use articles of speech where he might set up policy changes and pass any policy change you are trying to get it communicated through the press. i'm making a point about this one, that this is an area where i say we were meeting them with rhetoric and it didn't. therefore, there was no sense of any trade-off implied or unimplied. >> the media set issue -- >> yep. >> troubled mr. murdoch. and it's clear that mr. prody
made the call at the end of the day. can i just ask you about one entry in your diary, volume two, the 1st of april 1998. page 338. >> yeah. he said he didn't fear them coming at him about me, but about the relationship with murdoch. political knives were out for you at that time, weren't they? >> they were. >> i'm not sure this inquiry need go into that. we're more concerned with the underlying point. and then you say, and he, that's mr. blair, didn't fancy a sustained set of questions about whether murdoch lobbied him. >> yeah. >> so that's a paraphrase of the conversation you had with mr. blair, is it?
>> yeah. >> why didn't he fancy such a sustained set of questions? >> because the -- i think i've quoted in my statement the -- what i said at the briefing on this. i said in a number ten briefing, the conversation with prody covered a range of issues. it had been agreed neither side would brief on it. this had been honored. the ft should not use an anonymous italian official to stand up a story that was wrong. of course, if asked, we would always say the pm spoke up for british firms. it would be real odd if he was the pm of britain and did not. this did not stand up the story and talk about the prevention in this way was simply wrong. it did lead to a considerable frenzy this one. and i think we possibly could have handled it differently. and the call from prody was not about this. was about something completely
different, and prody asked for us not to brief on it. the ft then ran this story, and i refused to accept that this was intervention as they were presenting it. and what -- i think what tony blair is saying is that he was worried, actually, that that was -- standing up in the house of commons, sustained set of questions about why is this not intervention? i think he found that difficult. i've said in my statement, i was less concerned because i felt my statement it would be odd if the prime minister did not stand up for companies. in the briefing, journalists pointed out that my statement did not amount to full denial to which i responded i was not adding to the statement. and it's true. it was not a full denial. >> maybe mr. blair's concern was based on how all this appeared. >> by then it was a full-blown 24 carat frenzy. and it's one of those -- it's
tricky because rupert murdoch had mentioned this company to the prime minister. and the prime minister, as i recall, we did have a discussion about whether there was anything wrong with him raising it. and then he didn't raise it until this another this phone call came along and he mentioned it and prody said to the words of the effect that murdoch is waf wasting his time and i don't think it went any further. >> but the origin of all of this kerfuffle was an express request by mr. murdoch, presumably made referring to the prime minister to intervene in a certain way. >> no, i don't think -- he was trying to establish whether words to the effect he was wasting his time trying to get into the italian marketplace. >> but even if it wasn't to intervene in a way which would necessarily produce direct results, at least to ascertain
how the italian marketplace looked, should he put his toe in the water. that's what it amounted to, wasn't it? >> i wasn't privy to the call that he had and nor until this story blew up was i privy to the call with mr. prody. but i stood on that line for over several pretty lengthy briefings that i will refuse to accept that was an intervention the way it was being presented by the "financial times." that's where the delft came in because the press said it was an intervention, and i can see why. but, you know, sometimes these situations, you hold a line and that's what we did. and in the end, nothing came of it. >> you would have been an intervention if mr. murdoch was seeking an express regulatory favor, which clearly he wasn't. but he was seeking information from the italians, wasn't he? >> i mean, i know you're going to be seeing mr. blair and, you know, you'll be able to ask him because he had the conversation.
my sense of it would be that he's simply saying, i'm interested in this italian company. i'm -- do you think i'm wasting my time? and i don't think there's anything more than that. >> the reference to helping a british company was not quite accurate since we are talking about one of mr. murdoch's -- he'd set up his own italian company for the intervention or looking back at news corp. which is -- >> i accept that. but i think more accurately, this is not a transcript. it's an account of the briefing. we're talking about companies with british interests. >> the other area we need to look at, and you cover it in paragraph 15 of your statement, his media policy generally. you do say in the third sentence of paragraph 15, ironically, the only area where i believe we may have fallen out of this relates to the area of the press itself.
and then you refer to the current government. so are you suggesting that through fear of a hostile reaction, possibly even attacks, the labor government 1997 and 2010 were shy of taking on the press and bringing in necessary press performance in terms of regulation in is that the thesis which you say might have some validity? >> i wouldn't date it as far back at 1997, but i think as time wore on, i think a view developed generally in government, certainly with the prime minister and other senior ministers that there was a real problem. and i think that if -- i certainly, as i say in my statement, was advancing the case. if you think it's a real
problem, then we should do something about it. and part of the thinking is to why not to do something about it? i think there were two main reasons. one was the one that the prime minister is talked about this before. that actually the public just wouldn't understand because one of the lines being run at us by the press is we had them all in our pocket. not true, but that's one of the kind of lines that was run against. the public are going to be confused as to why we're suddenly saying this is a problem. and the second thing is the public had elected us to do all sorts of things. press regulation was not one of them. so that was the points of principle. i think there was a political point of pragmatism that tony blair would have taken the view that it was not politically sensible. and, you know, it's no secret this was one of the few things we argued about. we argued about it over several years. >> we can quite see, mr. campbell, if we go back to 1997, which, of course, was before the death of princess diana, that
included anything in the labor party manifesto which would commit that government press regulation -- regulatory reform, might have been a bit ambitious. others may comment on that. by the time we get to 2001 and in particular, 2005, there was a possibility, wasn't there, to include it within the government's legislative program, is that correct? >> well, there was always the possibility. as to whether there was any likelihood, i suspect there wasn't. but some of us were arguing that there should have been. >> and when you refer to concerns about what the media culture was, that's the second sentence of paragraph 16. >> yeah. >> can we be clear what the analysis is? because it may be set to fall in two parts. there's one, the political analysis which is the culture of negativity, the fusion of news
and comment. the press driving the news agenda. all the matters which i know are deep interest and concern to you. can we put them sort of a one side and then the wider concerns about the culture practiced and ethics of the press, harassment, intrusion, breach of privacy. i know the two concerns overlap to some extent. but they are more concerned with the interests of individuals. was your analysis, which is what you referred to on the third line, did it embrace both those concerns, or any one of those concerns? >> both of them. and i think actually my first witness statement i set out when i talk about a summary of the debit side. news values in which -- whether something is true counts for whether it's t makes a good story. in which the weight given to
coverage is not in proportion to the significance of the news matter being reported but whether it fits the agenda of the outlet. lack of anything approaching transparency with respect to the organization. and ineffectual regulation. and a culture dominated by the media themselves which allows inaccuracies, disfort yorngs unfairness, invasion of privacy and dubious practices and a culture in which any attempt to question or check the role of the media is met with denunciations, the motives of those concerned and instant claims that freedom of speech is under threat. some are what i mean by the -- by the culture, i suppose i would throw in there the culture of celebrity. >> yes, you -- it's fair that your first statement covers those matters. and you are not identifying, are you, a particular section of the press or are you? >> no, i think the culture, i think it's where the center of gravity within the culture has moved to. so i think it covers the
broadcasters. it covers the broad sheets and the tabloids as well. just to different varying degrees. >> and we know it's mr. mandelson's view. we've provided for you the piece in the guardian which you wrote in july of last year. it's under tab seven. >> yeah. >> you said the truth is, no issue of power to your principle was involved. we simply chose to be coward because we are too fearful to do otherwise. then he said, david cameron took up by the time tony blair and gordon brown left off. ignoring what happened after may 2010, would you agree with mandelson's view, we simply chose to be coward? >> i agree with it to some extent. i mean, he said there were no -- there was no issue of principle or priority. i think there were issues of principle and priority which i referred to a moment ago. but i do accept that part of the thinking of the prime minister
and some of his colleagues was that to take on the whole of the press at the time when most of the public thought we got a pretty good deal was politically not very sensible. >> it might have been difficult to have approached this on a cross-party basis at any time between 1997 and certainly 201. unless you were to identify a short window of opportunity which opened after the tragic death of princess diana. is that right? >> i think it would have been impossible to get a cross-party agreement on slide. >> what about that short window of opportunity? >> i'm not sure there really was one. i think that the -- i think interestingly, from chris mullins' diaries as well, he was
of the view of short window of opportunity was the same day straight after the election. i think that would have been very difficult for obvious reasons. i don't think there was, even with all the focus there was upon the conduct of the media post diana's death, i don't think there was that political or public appetite. this inquiry is only happening because of the specific set of issues that led to it.
on december 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy into the relationship between the press and the media continues with prime minister david cameron's former communications director andy coulson asked how close he was a former news of the world editor rebekkah brooks and rupert murdoch. this portion is just over an hour.
>> you're full name, please. >> andy coulson. >> please your statement dated the first of may this year. look at the last paragraph and underneath you will see a signature which is yours. the statement is given with and the constraints posed by the ongoing police investigation and is that right? >> yes. >> first of all a short time line of your career you started working as a journalist in 1989. is that correct? 1994 to 1998 he edited the bizarre column at the sun; is that right? >> yes. >> in the year 2000 you were deputy editor in news of the world
under rebecca way. january 2003 were appointed editor of news of the world. the 26 the visionary, 2007 you resigned around june, 2007 the exact date when you give your evidence you were appointed director of communications to the conservative party; is that right? >> yes. >> you started work i think of the ninth of july, 2007, and after the last general election i think on that wall of may, 2010, you were appointed stricter of communications at downing street is that correct? >> yes. >> and you resigned as the director of communications on the 26th of january, 2011. can i ask you this general question first of all, there are reports that you have been keeping a personal diary in the
style of mr. alistair campbell in the contemporaneously effort between july of 2007 to january of 2011 is that correct or not? >> no. >> in terms of how your witness statement is being prepared, you have had to rely on your memory. are there any other documents you have had access to? >> there are some notes in the course of my work both from opposition and government. >> so these are manuscript sort computer records are they? >> notebooks. >> have you had access to those note folks on your statement or not? >> yes. >> you have been arrested in connection with the operation so i will be asking questions that bear on those matters, do you understand? now some makarov questions.
from your statement it's clear that you and perhaps still are close friends of rebekah is that right? >> we haven't spoken for a while. >> as to the frequency of your interaction, particularly after july, 2007 about how often do you speak to her? >> it would depend i think i scared to the two shared this with the meetings that we had that we would talk now and then. i wouldn't say even that we spoke every week. there were times we didn't speak for quite some time, but it was always say that we spoke over that period of time regularly i think is the word i would use. >> did you communicate by text message? >> on occasion. >> e-mail? >> occasionally. >> and by mobile phone is the right? >> yes. >> would it be fair to say that you knew what each other's
perspective political standpoint or? >> conservative, so there was pretty clear. as to her political allegiances, in terms of the period at the sun, she was supportive of the party and chief executive when they then changed their allegiance to the conservative party. as to her personal views and personal beliefs how she voted, i have no idea. >> you have any insight into her personal political belief or not? >> i guess the question might be so bold how did she wrote i have no idea. >> was she someone who you felt was close to certain politicians? >> yes, i think through the course of her work she was close
to politicians. >> we will come to that in a moment. when you took over as news of the world in 2003 which aspects of the venue did you want to change? >> i don't remember wanting to change any of the cultural aspects. the main change on the instigated on becoming editor was a cosmetic one. i wanted to redesign. >> you write to the sun and the news of the world are there any other differences in the culture of those papers were not in your view? >> one is a daily paper so the pace of the papers different, the atmosphere certainly on certain days of the wheat. if you try to find a comparison between the news of the world if you like and the mood of the sun is on a saturday because that is the day that you are producing the newspaper.
>> you're dealings with a burst become mr. rupert murdoch is in the period 2003 to 2007. about how often wish to speak with him to using? >> i can't put a number on it but he would call usually on a saturday night and sometimes it would be maybe a couple of times in the month and sometimes you might call a couple months without hearing from him so i think i would describe that as your regular and almost always in fact i think always sort of a saturday night phone call aside from the occasional news international meetings when he was in london, or when i would go to new york with the other editors for the sort of the budget discussions. >> the content of the paper wasn't particular with. in terms of the specific content i don't remember any conversations of a particular part of the paper.
we did talk about sports pages. the company made a big investment in expanding the size of the sports coverage of news of the world, and that was a fundamentally important part of the sort of commercial mix so why sure we discussed that and politics generally, and when he would give me his view on the news of the time may be. >> we know that didn't succeed but in such the front pages? >> in those conversations i might tell him if we had a good story we were planning to run that night, but not always by any measure. >> wasn't he interested in stories which might impact on the success of the newspaper?
>> in so much of is a good example. in terms of driving news of the world, you know, the sport was crucial and had a massive impact on the sort of physical production of the paper, so that was -- i certainly remember having that conversation. news international invested in some press securing my time as editor and i have concerns that the press also very successful in some regards what impact on the production of the paper, particularly the sports coverage. we wouldn't get the right teams coverage in the right area for example. i certainly remember discussing that. estimate your bringing the conversation to a neutral topics such as sports. did he ask you questions to ackley about the figures? >> he may have, yes. >> in june presumably on a
saturday did he intend to ask you how was it going? >> not always, no. >> but often? >> remember to the crew member occasions when he did but i wouldn't want to characterize it as the purpose it is quite often he wouldn't mention. >> both he and you were aware it might infringe on the figures of the paper, is that correct? >> my job as editor was absolutely to produce a successful newspaper. when you said you discussed the political issues of the day were the general discussions such as europe referendum or whatever it might be? >> yes. it wasn't as big an issue as it was for a daily paper like the sun, but yes. >> did he discuss the politicians of the day and how well they were doing? >> on occasion, yes.
>> did you have the sense that he wanted to find out how the political opinion in the country was moving? >> i don't recall the sort of specific conversations in that way. >> in general, i'm not asking you to identify a moment or a particular conversation but in general did you have any sense of that? >> i might have in the course of a conversation offered the view but related to a particular issue rather than the sort of longer-term. >> during the period, 2003 to 2007, were you particularly interested in politics or not? >> yes. >> although your peter may not be productive your own personal. estimate we supported the labor and the news of the world. >> my own how i voted. >> i'm not seeking to be to ask
you what did you vote. stomach one tends to vote in line, but i -- yes, i think that's fair to say. >> do you feel like that is part of your job as editor to ss the political mood of the country in the next general election? >> my job as editor is in terms of politics in certain issues. >> i think it strongly reflects. >> in that sense to follow, yes i would say. there were some issues as an
editor. that is the lead for the main opinion. but i think generally speaking the successful newspaper is one that is in tune with its region. there are some things you can't get them to do but there's some things you can get them to do if the cause is right. i don't think you can get them to do anything other than and trusted by the paper. you have to have an understanding of where they are so that when you decide that you do want to promote a particular cause to go into leadership mode that it is sufficiently in tune with where you know they are that doesn't cause you trouble. estimate to one them to be in line as much as possible. that is what i was trying to
get. >> the exercise is unscientific because you have a large readership between the people buying the paper and obviously a record range of opinion within that readership is that right? >> that's right. >> do you take opinion polls of the rudimentary basis on what it was? >> pretty rudimentary. there was some market research. >> would you describe your relationship and mr. murdoch as being warm or something different? >> i was an employee and for early enjoyed my time working for him and the sort of interactions i had with him, yes she was warm and supportive. >> warm towards you and vice versa. >> i wasn't particularly close to him in that regard. support to me as an editor and i enjoyed working.
>> you turned down the editorship of the daily mirror on the resignation of mr. morgan. that might reflect on your loyalty of mr. murdoch, but did you? >> there were conversations towards the possibility of becoming the editor of the daily mirror. i'm sure chose not to do so. >> the one general election which came in your watch as it were in the 2005 election in the same paragraph of your statement he said in the and you decided to continue the paper's support of tony blair. why in the end? >> it was a long process. i had a range of meetings in the sort of leave that to the election, the conference and outside of the conference and i come over time together with my team at the news of the world, i decided in the end that we would continue to support tony blair.
>> did you believe that he would probably win that election clacks >> it wasn't the key factor in the decision. the key factor in the decision as i attach to earlier is i felt news of the world leaders best interest would be best served by tony blair. but if you read the lead at that time, i think it was -- i don't think it was wildly enthusiastic. but i think on balance we felt that was the best way to go. >> you say that you reflected the mood at the country at that time i suppose. >> possibly. >> did you take advice about who might win that election? >> nope. >> from your political editor for example? >> sorry, in terms of advice, some pretty detailed conversations about it, and that would certainly involve the political stuff. i was keen also to involved the members of staff who didn't work
in the politics, who didn't understand west minister and were not immersed in the world. so, i worked in different departments in the magazines and what have you. >> did you have discussions with rebekah wayde about it? >> i don't think so. in terms of the editorship of the sun and news of the world, they are separate, they were separate papers and there was a sort of clear line drawn between the two and a rivalry actually or there was a rivalry between the two. and so i wouldn't have -- i wouldn't remember any conversations about that. >> so the endorsement in the labor party would have been a surprise to you than what it? >> i don't know if it was a surprise. i certainly didn't plan and that decision making. >> did you have any discussions with rupert murdoch about the endorsement? or the news of the world endorsement? >> i don't believe i did. i may have had a conversation
with him after the even possibly. i don't know. i don't remember any. >> wouldn't you want to find out whether what you were doing was contrary to his view? >> no, i didn't have a conversation with him i don't remember one. i don't think it happened about the 2005 election. i followed my own path, and i don't feel sitting here now that i was pushed or encouraged or certainly told how to go a certain way. it was determined that we would spend a reasonable amount of time with politicians from both parties and then we would make up hour own mind. estimate to move forward to october, 2005 there were five candidates for the leadership, you recall that? >> yes. >> you tell us in your statement that you meant to commit mr. david cameron at a dinner
for current posted. do you recall? >> yes. >> is your preferred candidate for the leadership? >> certainly at that stage. all i've taken the time to look back at some news of the world additions are around that period, and i don't think that the news of the will ever explicitly supported mr. cameron in the leadership or that we supported anyone, but we did in play at that stage william hague as economist, and i think he expressed a preference before to work with him. >> in the personal perspective is he your preferred candidates for the leadership? >> i have reformed at that stage a clear view. i found a leader looking at this issue i found a leader from the news of the world where of
suggested the seed to win and period that's as far as it went, so there was against him let's put it that way. >> between december 05 and january, 07 collis the news of the world clearly moving towards supporting the conservative party as the next election? >> i don't think so. i mean, news of the world undermines the came up with the headline and that was especially helpful mr. cameron. so why don't think that -- i don't think that's the case. >> in paragraph 34 of your statement you talk about the agenda for your meetings with politicians at the time. you make it clear at no point in the conversations was the potential support of the news of the world discussed or any
commercial issues. by commercial issues you mean that the direct interest of news international do you? >> yes. >> did you discuss them with the less impact the press more generally shares conditional agreements appropriate sentencing and protection act issues? >> i don't recall doing so, nope. >> human rights act, was that a topic of conversation? >> that may have come up in conversation. >> yes, that's possible. islamic in the context of the human rights where you in the school's campus and freedom of the press would take precedence over the privacy of individuals? >> and certainly a believer in the freedom of the press, yes. >> so there were conversations about the human rights act and
the course of those conversations isn't it? >> i'm certainly a believer in the freedom of the press, that much is true. >> in the same period, december 05 of january 07 with regards to your dealings with politicians, would it be fair to say that it was a clear subtext of your dealings with the seniors of all three main parties they were keen to know whether the news of the world would support? >> no, the explosive issue of the process was never asked of me during that time. ..